Saturday, August 20, 2005

EVENTS -->Hunter S. Fireworks

When Hunter S. Thompson blew his head off with a shotgun in his kitchen and all my j-school buddies sang encomiums of excuse and praise I bought Fear and Loathing and read it cover to cover.

I invested in the Modern Library edition of the work, which included Strange Rumblings in Aztlan and The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved. I was fortunate to see all the Ralph Steadman illustrations that accompanied the original publications as well.

I read the book on the plane to New York City, which stopped through Las Vegas. Reminders of my last trip to Sin City romped through my memory as I enjoyed Mr. Thompson's prose.

I had been in Vegas eight months before, covering Black Hat/Defcon, the biggest hacker conference in the world. There I met the likes of Dark Tangent, Priest, and others the former director of technology for the NSA. Going to Defcon was a little like a high-tech binge drinking contest, where I was a freshman of tech surrounded by seniors chugging down information and vomiting up jargon. It was the biggest nerd-party I had ever been to, and being Vegas, did involve a little drinking. At one point I found myself behind a makeshift bar mixing drinks that would have clinched my stomach in knots. It seemed a sort of poetic justice that I should be the vehicle for excessive imbibing for those who had poured information into my brain until it couldn't take anymore.

I was getting DDOS by the intelligence and knowledge of those around me. DDOS is, of course, a hacker term that stands for a Distributed Denial of Service attack. It's what happens when you get a thousand computers to simultaneously target a single web-server with queries and information. The server tries to handle all the requests until it can't. Imagine one waitress trying to serve dinner to all the people in a football stadium. It's a great way to crash computers.

I learned a lot from the folks there. A big thanks should go to Nico at Montara Mountain, who coordinates a lot of the show.

Although my experience at Defcon made me feel a little like a Gonzo Journalist, I knew I would never be the participant in a story coming out of it.

Perhaps the most striking thing of Mr. Thompson's book is the overt brutality of it. The big jawed creatures of Mr. Steadman's pictures really drive this point home. I suspect that most of the book is a rebellion against the counter-culture an attempt to bridge the atrocious excesses across generations. I don't know.

Mr. Thompson's family has decided to give him a hell of a sendoff. They've mixed his ashes into fireworks and will blow him up, through a 150-foot high cannon, reports.

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